"Draryn...? Karraiyen...? Are you dressed?"
"Yes, Mum," Draryn, Karraiyen's twin brother called out,"We're just brushing our hair and washing our teeth."
"Well, hurry up about it!" Their mother sounded stressed. The siblings heard a sigh, and then the sound of footsteps descending the stairs.
Draryn and Karraiyen exchanged exasperated glances.
"Honestly, you'd think she didn't want us to look good after all. She's been fretting about it the last two days and now all she's concerned about is that we're at Castle Redmont hours early!" Karraiyen snorted.
Her brother gave her an envious look. "You're all right. You'll look good no matter what. You always do."
His sister just rolled her eyes at him.
However, what Draryn said was mostly true. With her pitch black tresses and grey-blue eyes, Karraiyen, or, as the few friends she had made in Redmont Fief called her, Karri, was never in danger of looking like a tramp. Draryn was more ordinary-looking, with their mother's dishwater-brown hair and light brown eyes, and his sister knew he fretted about being taken for some kind of delinquent by Baron Arald- henceforth the careful grooming that preceded every official occasion.
The Carsies were knew to Redmont; they had lived in Caraway Fief until the twins were a few months to their fifteenth birthday. They knew no one. They had no family in Redmont Village. Karraiyen had a few friends, but none very close. She wasn't too worried about that, though, she knew that given time she would make more. Draryn was the only one of the family who had made a best friend- almost on his first day. His name was Kaleb, he was the son of the local Potter. Kaleb had no skills in that area whatsoever, but Draryn was interested in the craft.
Seeing as there was no way the Carsie twins would get apprenticed to a Craftsmaster through parental influence or other connections, Baron Arald had decided to make an exception: Draryn and Karraiyen would attend the Choosing with the Ward orphans. They were both vaguely nervous.
Draryn, of course, wanted to be a Potter. His second choice was Weaver. Karraiyen agreed with him that pottery would be interesting, but it definitely wasn't her first choice. She didn't know what she wanted to do. She liked the open air, so unlike most children she didn't dread being assigned to a farm, but she wasn't particularly thrilled with the idea. Diplomatic Service was probably her first choice. It would certainly be exciting, and that was the main thing she was looking for in a Craft. She had seen Lady Pauline around, occasionally with a man in a cowled cloak, and she liked what she had seen. She was rather intimidated by the man, though. When she had asked her friend Lea from the Ward about him, Lea had just said that that was Halt, and Karri would do well to stay away from him. Although the man had never had a bow nor a quiver when she had seen him, and she hadn't gotten close enough to see the traditional double scabbard, she assumed he was a Ranger. Lea was right. Rangers were necessary, of course, just like weapons were necessary, but people said they practiced black magic, and while Karri didn't exactly believe it, she didn't doubt it either. She wondered why Pauline had married him.
Shaking herself back to the present, she examined her brother, raising her eyebrows. Eventually he noticed her expression.
"What?" He asked
She smirked. "You've brushed your hair so much, you look like a porcupine."
He just stuck out his tongue and threw a pillow at her.
Half an hour later, after a vigorous examination from their mother, which they both passed, and a rather embarrassing well-wishing ceremony from both parents, they were out the door and on the way to see Baron Arald.
Draryn turned to his sister.
"What do you want to be?" he asked.
"I don't know... Diplomatic Service, I think. You want Pottery?"
He smiled. "Of course."
"You know you wouldn't get to climb any tress if you were a Potter," she teased. Both twins loved climbing.
"I would! I'd climb them in my spare time!" he retorted.
"Well, you certainly wouldn't get the girls," she said, switching tactic.
He looked puzzled. "Why not?" he asked.
Karraiyen grinned. "Because your hands would be filthy from working with clay all the time! And actually, I doubt if you would have enough spare time. And climbing trees probably isn't exactly smiled upon by the Craftsmaster."
He looked put out.
His sister interrupted him:
"If you enjoy climbing so much, you should be a Ranger!"
Now it was her turn to look pained.
"I certainly hope not. Everyone knows they practice black magic."
Unseen in the shadows on the edge of the road, a dark figure followed the twins, a black and white border shepherd at his heels.